The International Olympic Committee recently recommended that golf be added to the roster of Olympic sports beginning in 2016. What may have seemed like an uncontroversial recommendation, however, has inspired a variety of objections that question whether the ethics of golf are consistent with Olympic standards and ideals. For instance, in his August 18th “Moral of the Story” column, Randy Cohen lays out a litany of reasons why golf should not be added to the Olympic roster: (1) golf is a rich man’s sport, (2) professional golfers are by-and-large politically conservative, (3) professional golfers refuse to resist the sexist policies of prominent golf clubs, and (4) golf courses do untold damage to the environment.
Cohen’s argument raises a variety of philosophical and ethical questions. For instance, how should we define a sport? To what extent do the social, economic, and political circumstances in which a sport exists determine the nature of the sport? The answers one gives to these and related questions bear on the soundness of arguments that evaluate the moral probity of particular sports like golf. Is golf worthy of being an Olympic sport? Perhaps not. But we may need to know a little more about what golf is before we can justifiably decide whether to agree with Cohen’s evaluation.
Moral Rationalism vs. Moral Sentimentalism: Is Morality More Like Math or Beauty?
By Michael B. Gill , University of Arizona
(Vol. 1, November 2006)